Are critical thinkers really desired by organisations? I don't think so. Why? Because they do things that tend not to be appreciated, like:
- They question things.
- They don't just take information and accept it. They must challenge it to ensure it is not false or one-sided information. They will present you with data that goes against your argument because that is how they investigate the matter.
- They are ready to dive deep into complex situations everyone avoids. By doing that, they often ruffle the feathers.
- They sort through clutter and noise and see options for moving forward with great clarity. That is why sometimes they look at you puzzled by the small things that you got caught up on:-) Sorry, it is funny...
- They have problems with authority, especially authority given by a title. They respect expertise and valid data.
- They ask zillions of questions.
- They are creative and willing to challenge the status quo.
- They are observant and have excellent inferential skills enabling them to read between the lines and figure out dodgy things.
- They are aware of and quickly see common thinking/logical fallacies and call them out.
- They recognise biases quickly because their analytical thinking makes them objective.
- They think independently and are less likely to fall for group thinking, often making them an outlier.
Aren't these considered annoying within organisations? Few of these things are always present when people get in trouble at work.
So when crafting your competency framework and adding "Critical Thinking" as one of the desired competencies, ask yourself, "Are we able to deal with them, or are they going to end up labelled as Not a Team Player or Negative?"
It is a wonderful gift that few have but they are not understood or appreciated. I suggest you write such a description of your competencies so people actually understand what they mean. Integrate critical thinkers' talent into the team's overall competence because it is likely that they are alone and their talent is ignored or labelled.
If you are a critical thinker, learn how to verbalise and explain this strength of yours so you can educate your colleagues and bosses. If you can't, just show them the bullet points and say "Look this is how my brain works, how do you think we can bring the best out of my skill on this team?"
Open up a place for your talent because if you start asking random questions as they come to you during meetings people will react badly. Do you know why?
Because your critical thinking brain thought of things that nobody has and they don't have the answer. You make them feel incompetent and inadequate and the only choice you leave them with is to protect themselves in the form of ignoring or labelling you as negative.
Don't waste your talent, learn how to use them effectively.